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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Constitution Hill

We were really hoping to see the Apartheid Museum, but unfortunately, it is closed on Sundays. We were a bit bummed almost skipped the alternative Constitution Hill & Old 4. However, we really enjoyed an up-close tour of South Africa's Supreme (constitutional) court.

The area was once a fort, as it is the highest place around & it long served as one of the roughest & toughest prisons on SA.

We toured the women's prisons and couldn't believe the conditions, especially for non-white prisoners. There were some great exhibits in the men's prison, and they had many displays about the political prisoners in apartheid's history.

The real highlight here was touring Constitution Hill. The building is only a few years old, but it contains some gorgeous art & incredible architectural details. The designers did an amazing job of blending all the cultures, history and art of the country in the various elements of the building. Above, each of the officially recognized languages is represented.

These massive wooden doors were at least 30' tall and each panel was hand-carved wood describing some of the fundamental tenants of the constitution just written in 1994.

The lobby area was beautiful & filled with symbolic art.

These metal leaves represented the forest and the close ties of the people to nature.

This ladder stood outside the doors into the courtroom and each rung represented various points in South African history

These hand-crafted bronze doors led into the Constitution Court.

We were able to have free reign inside the court and walk around as we pleased. It was so amazing to us as our guide explained a bit about how their legal system worked and how the justices were selected. Part of their belief is that the court should be open to all- anybody can some and watch a trail, proceedings are open to the press and translated into the native languages.

There were several women on the court & quite a few African and Indian judges. In front of each judge's seat is a cowhide- symbolizing how they are all the same but each still unique.

I have a thing for photographing flags of the countries that we visit and this quilted flag with beads on it was just gorgeous.

Walking up close, I was able to see the tens of thousands of beads adorning the flag in intricate patterns.

This symbol was also quite predominant around the court. I love how you can't tell if the people are black or white (gold), but they all blend together under the tree.

GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY: My running buddy is back in town today- no more slacking!


Dennis the Vizsla said...

Wow, very cool place and lots of interesting artwork!

jocelyn said...

Hi Amanda, I love your photographs of the Constitutional Court! I am writing a paper on the landscape + architectural approach here as well as at the Freedom Park in Pretoria and am wondering if I may use one of your photographs- hopefully for publication in South Africa's Architectural Review. If so, could you please email me your last name-
Best, Jocelyn